Tuesday, May 31, 2016

RELEASE DAY BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Where Wolves Run


Where Wolves Run
Jason Parent

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication date: 5.31.16
Pages: 86

The Beasts Will Feed.
            The dense Bavarian forest outside the town of Rattenberg has long been rumored to harbor something sinister, something wild - mythical beasts that vanish into the shadowy woods after each attack, leaving carnage as the only evidence of their existence.  Many villagers turn a blind eye to what is happening, but those who believe tremble at the mere whisper of the word: werewolf.
            There are those who stand and fight, however.  Konrad is one such boy.  Too poor to live in the village, he and his mother fed for themselves in their forest hovel alone for months at a time, his father preoccupied with mysterious business abroad.
            After a vicious assault on their homestead, Konrad finds himself buried beneath his mother's mutilated body, escaping death only due to his father's chance return.  Alive, but taking no comfort in the presence of the man who had left him and his mother to face death on their own, Konrad soon discovers that his father's work has followed him home...
            ...and it's hungry.

When they came one night in late September, Mother seemed as though she knew what they were and why they were there.  Father was away on some vague trip to mountains in the west.  He had left Konrad and his mother alone to face an unspeakable brute and its cohorts in sin.
            Mother shoved aside the wooden table upon which they had just finished their supper.  Beneath it, the floor consisted of large flat stones arranged like puzzle pieces in dirt.  The largest was irregularly shaped, nearly two meters longhand less than a meter wide.  Yanking a pickaxe from the wall, she drove it into the dirt and wedged it beneath the rock, prying it loose.
            The rock covered a storage area as shallow as a coffin.  "Get in," Mother urged.  She propped up the slab at an angle.  Howling broke the silence outside: wolves.  Their haunting refrains came from all directions.
            "Quickly!"  Her voice was low but sharp.  She pulled him close, her wet cheek smearing against his.  She assisted him into the hole.
            A clever but unlearned boy, Konrad did not fully understand his mother's apprehension.  Still, he did as she commanded.  His big brown eyes widened as his mother lowered the lid, blocking out all but a crack of the hearth's warm glow.  She told him, begged him, to stay quiet no matter what he might hear.  He nodded, chin quivering, knowing something was terribly wrong, his imagination filling in the details.
            Shock made him keep his promise of silence.  He choked up in panic as terrifying sounds, growling and pounding, came from just outside.  Scratching at the walls followed.  The nauseating cacophony traveled through the dirt as if to mock Konrad to his cowardice as he lay in his sarcophagus.  Is that what those demonic creatures were doing?  Taunting them?
            If so, the taunting stopped.  A moment of silence gave life to hope.  It shattered as easily as the door beneath some terrible force.  Konrad peeked through the crack, but his view was limited.  He heard a struggle above him.  His mother spoke not a word; her screams said it all.


About the author:
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home.  The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them.  He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
            In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge... as a civil litigator.  When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized with the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble.  The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field... sorta.  But that's another story.
            When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal).  And read and write, of course.  He does that too sometimes.
            You can visit him on Facebook, on Twitter, or his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

Monday, May 30, 2016

REVIEW: I Crumpled My Paper


"I have wanted to write a book for a decade, wavering back and forth between a novel and a business book.  Reaching the milestone of being in business for sixteen years had a profound effect on me.  I decided writing a novel is something I can do later on, but now was the time I wanted to tell my business story."


I Crumpled My Paper, Now What?
Tidbits from an Entrepreneur Still in Training
By: Allison De Meulder

Genre: Business, Entrepreneur, Women
Publication date: March 9, 2016
Pages: 113

Recommended by: Worldwind Virtual Book Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 5.28.2016


Having started my own business a time or two in my lifetime, I'm always curious how others do it, and the story that goes with it.  Allison De Meulder is the person behind Invitation Consultants and Matrick & Eve, two companies that have really grown since their inception.  When her book came across my desk, I knew that I had to give it a read - How could I not?  This lady is amazing!

Do keep in mind that this is not a how-to book.  It is more a story of how she got to where she is.  You learn about her business acumen and her mindset, and she offers a lot of information on how SHE did it, things that could work in any business.  I especially enjoy her "Note to self" sections that she has throughout the book, showing us that every entrepreneur makes mistakes and learns from them.  

The book is broken down into easily readable sections, with chapter names that make you think, and once you're done with each you realize just how well it was named.  As I read, I felt like I was having a conversation with a good friend, rather than reading her words on paper, and she kept my attention to the very end (something I've found other business books do not do).  I found her words inspiring.

I would definitely recommend this book to any woman who already has a business or who is working to start one.  Some of the things she has learned along the way may help you.  


About the book:
At age 23, Allison De Meulder started an online business in a time when ecommerce was a relatively unknown term.  Sixteen years later, she reflects back on how she grew the business and how the business turned her into an adult.
            This book tells Allison's story.  It is not meant to give advice, but rather to inspire women.  She wants to show women that they can have a successful business, be a wife and be a mother, all at the same time.  Allison has done it all, from hiring her husband to work with her, bringing the kids to the office on holidays instead of brunching with bunnies, to providing jobs and opportunities and inspiring a corporate culture filled with creativity, camaraderie and lots of sugar, chick flicks and crafting.  Allison did it by choosing the right (and wrong) people for her team, making mistakes at every turn, taking risks and being an introvert.  It sounds exhausting and it was, but Allison is still standing tall.

About the author:
Successful entrepreneur, creative genius, passionate leader.  They may seem like buzzwords, but nonetheless they describe Allison De Meulder.  In 1999, she launched InvitationConsultants.com, one of the first online retailers of personalized invitations and announcements.  In 1999, she was a true pioneer.  In 2015, she remains at the helm of one of the few original online invitation companies that has survived the dot com bust and the wave of consolidation in the industry.  The company is still privately owned and never accepted any capital or debt.  Their products have been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, Real Weddings, The Knot magazine, HGTV Magazine, Woman's Day, and numerous other publications.
             In December of 2013, she successfully launched the wholesale line Matrick & Eve, a strong brand of paper and gifts sold in brick and mortar stores.  She saw an opportunity in the market for creative, fun and unique products.  The line features greeting cards, coasters, notepads, stationary, and more.  All of the products are designed, printed and packaged in-house at the Matrick & Eve studio, proudly made in the USA.  In one year, the line went from zero to over three hundred stores, including museums, boutiques, home decor shops, bookstores, and stationary and gift stores, and is still growing strong.  This spring Matrick & Eve can be found in such stores around the country as Sur La Table, Francesca's and Paper Source.
            Allison's main focus is to maintain a company culture steeped in creativity, teamwork, service and out-of-the-box thinking.  Fun is always present at the office and can be seen at their craft days, sketching afternoons and monthly luncheons which usually involve movie trivia.  Allison has grown her company to be a unique place of opportunity for designers as well as those creative minded individuals who want to be in an innovative and challenging environment where things are always changing and growth is not a noun but a state of mind.
            Born in New York City and raised in Miami Beach, Allison dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur lawyer.  She majored in business because she thought it would be a good foundation for law.  She studied at Boston University's School of Management before finishing her degree at the University of Tampa.  To her surprise she fell in love with everything business and took a different path.  She then earned her MBA.  Allison's work experience includes marketing communications and public relations.  She considers her areas of expertise to be: organizational management, product development, creative direction and change management.
            Allison enjoys sharing her passion for business and creativity through public speaking and writing.  
            She enjoys spending her free time traveling with her family, watching chick flicks, listening to '80s music, collecting interior design books, walking, writing, reading, dreaming of new products, touring universities and working on interior design projects that focus on rustic chic and modern vintage decor.  She and her husband have three children and four chickens.

Friday, May 27, 2016

BOOK SPOTLIGHT + EXCERPT: I Crumpled My Paper, Now What?


I Crumpled My Paper, Now What?
Tidbits from an Entrepreneur Still in Training
By: Allison De Meulder

Genre: Business, Entrepreneurship, Women
Publication date: March 9, 2016
Pages: 113

At age 23, Allison De Meulder started an online business in a time when ecommerce was a relatively unknown term.  Sixteen years later, she reflects back on how she grew the business and how the business turned her into an adult.
            This book tells Allison's story.  It is not meant to give advice, but rather to inspire women.  She wants to show women that they can have a successful business, be a wife and a mother, all at the same time.  Allison has done it all, from hiring her husband to work with her, bringing the kids to the office on holidays instead of brunching with bunnies, to providing jobs and opportunities and inspiring a corporate culture filled with creativity, comradery and lots of sugar, chick flicks and crafting.  Allison did it by choosing the right (and wrong) people for her team, making mistakes at every turn, taking risks and bring an introvert.  It sounds exhausting and it was, but Allison is still standing tall.

Amazon ** Goodreads ** BookLikes ** Barnes & Noble

LOOK FIRST OR LEAP FIRST?
I would like to say that mistakes I made along the way I can count on one hand, but that's definitely not true.  Whether you are a perfectionist or not, it's hard for entrepreneurs to admit they make mistakes.  I want to be at the helm and in control, hoping that every "yes" and every "no" I say is undoubtedly the right choice.  However, everyone makes mistakes, and putting my pride aside, I will tell you about some of the ones I have made along the way:

Not Having a Mentor: Someone Who Could Give Me Bear Hugs

I probably didn't look hard enough, but I have to be honest, I was always hoping that a long term mentor would just fall at my doorstep and be there for me throughout the years.  I have been in peer groups and met great people, but none that I would call a long term mentor.  I think this is essential, and even though I have been doing this for sixteen years, I still hope to find a mentor.  They do not necessarily need to be in my industry (although that would be a bonus), they just need to be someone who is trustworthy, a sounding board, and understands the journey of an entrepreneur.  If you are one of those, feel free to look me up!

Not Knowing How to Handle Growing Too Big: A Balloon Hurts When It Pops In Your Face

I have known a few entrepreneurs who can attest to this one.  Growing is amazing, but the pains are achy and gnawing.  Typically people think growth means money and yes that's part of it, but there are so many decisions to make and actions to take when growth happens.  The most important question to ask yourself when growing is: how will you sustain this growth?  When we grew for the first time, we did not think about the balloon pop, but now we know and are so much more prepared.  Do not move to a bigger office unless you are busting at the seams.  For every dollar spent related to growth, ask yourself if it is a dollar well spent and will it help you to continue to grow or does it just feel good (i.e. office upgrades, fancy bonuses, additional hires).  It was easy to get caught up in wanting to spend money that we earned for niceties.  So, consider how these dollars spent would be affected should a "pop" occur.

Negotiate Harder: Don't Be a Wimp

There were many times we could have negotiated on prices and stood on firmer ground.  My husband and I are not very aggressive and dealing with negotiation and confrontation is certainly not one of our stronger suits.  Someone very smart once told me, Allison, everything is negotiable.  As time goes on, I can see that more and more.  Especially after we bought our first office building and realized that we could have negotiated a better price.  That is just one example.  So we keep reminding ourselves to push a little harder and establish our ground before caving too quickly.

Fire Sooner: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, But Hearts Have to Be Broken Sometimes

Firing is one of my least favorite parts of my job description.  However, it is par of my job that I will never be rid of, so I just have to deal with it.  I have held onto the wrong employees too long for a laundry list of reasons.  One of the biggest reasons was fear.  What I learned is that fear will hold you back, fear will encompass you and prohibit you from moving ahead.  Even worse, fear will infect an organization.  A fearless leader at the helm can prevent fear from taking over.

Performance Reviews Are Overrated: Don't Get Your Papers in a Bunch

Let me start by saying I do believe in performance reviews.  But reviews should not be a substitution for feedback (constructive criticism and positive reinforcement) on a regular basis.  We started out doing performance reviews four times a year, and then a few years later changed it to twice a year, and two years ago we moved to annually.  I felt comfortable with this because 1) I honest abhor writing reviews and so do my managers, 2) half of the items mentioned happened months ago, 3) who really remembers everything someone did over a six-month time period, 4) the employees seemed underwhelmed by the process.  We base our performance reviews off our employees' job description and let them know how they are doing in each aspect.  These reviews are certainly formalities.
            We have found that the most effective review tactics happen outside of the formal review and are where 1) we catch the employee doing something fabulous and we praise them right away, 2) we observe the employee doing something not quite stellar and we tell them immediately.  If I wait too long, the employee is usually confused and can't even recall the incident; meanwhile, I had been stewing over the incident for weeks or even months.  In the past, we waited too long to give feedback.  That was our mistake, but now we know better.  Don't wait for the formal review to make something known because by then it's too late.  I also recognize that the review process and its effectiveness will vary by organization.
            I've spoken about mistakes I have made and risks I have taken, but at some point I need to talk about the greatest decisions I have made in business in recent years.

Defending My Place on the Internet Because We Are Here to Stay

I have had to defend myself from day one to friends and family for being an internet company.  Now that I have done the retail store thing too, I can say in all honesty: the internet has a reach that we could never achieve with our local store.  Even though the internet is saturated with paper players like us, I wouldn't leave the space.  We've built up a community of customers and being a working mom, I relish convenience and know others do too.

Not Taking Crap from Anyone Because I'm Better than That

I'm just not doing it, not taking crap from anyone.  I don't have the time or patience for nonsense, gossip, or drama and that's the way I run my ship: simple, straightforward, and without falter.
            I know business owners who have gotten caught up on small details, employee issues, and petty competitiveness.  After so long of being on my own, I do not subscribe to anything that will bring us down.  Not taking crap also means not being afraid to say "no."

An Intense Hiring Practice I Will Always Defend

When I talk to business folk about our hiring process, they often have one of two reactions (sometimes both): 1) I love your hiring ideas; they really make sense, 2) I can't believe you really go through all of that trouble.  Our hiring process is one of the aspects of the business I am most proud of, and that is because it works, and this is how it goes:

The initial phone interview lets us hear the candidate's enthusiasm and what their verbal communication skills are like.  This is especially important when hiring for our customer service team.

Note to candidate: Wake up at least 30 minutes prior to your phone interview.  It is not professional to be woken up from us calling you or to be yawning incessantly.  (I have had my fair share of waking up candidates at 10am.)

Meeting face-to-face with managers, not only in the potential employee's department, but in other departments, is imperative (we meet two to three times in person).  We expect that candidates will bring a copy of their resume with them, and if they are a graphic designer, that they will bring their portfolio.
            An application packet (for example, tests for graphic designers, grammar tests for invitation consultants) is quite useful.  Sadly, we have had applicants cheat on the graphic design test before.  They are obviously immediately disqualified.  The application packet also has them writing down references and information about previous positions.  For example, can we contact your previous employer?

Note to candidate: Do not write on the application, see resume.  We know we can see your resume, but on the application we would like you to fill out all areas.  Don't take shortcuts during the application process.

Reference, credit, and criminal checks (I have spoken in detail about this because it is a hot topic) are gems for character evaluation.
            Our hiring process is long and in-depth and I stand behind it.

Keeping the Value of Our Product Because We Are Worth It

It's easy to want to compete with bigger companies who can offer similar products as us at much lower prices, simply because they can.  We are not the cheapest, nor the most expensive, of our competitors, so we sit nice and pretty in the middle.  Around the holidays in our industry, things tend to get ugly, with one company discounting deeper than the next.  Their promotion can be construed as obnoxious (for example, offering 60% off holiday cards either means you just jacked up your prices to compensate or you are not making that much on an order).  Besides offering a fantastic product, we are also offering our services should a customer need our assistance.  We've learned through the years that devaluing our products with low prices is not the right route for us.  We have placed ourselves in the marked mid-priced and with boutique service and that is where we will stay.

Controversial At Best: The Customer Is Not Always Right (but they pay the bills)

My controversial statement is: the customer is not always right.  Once I admitted it, I felt like I could move forward and deal with the stress from customers better.  It is no secret that working with customers and clients is challenging.  Some can even be dishonest, unreasonable, and petty.  But at the end of the day, they pay our bills, so who am I to complain.  No matter how complicated or heated a situation gets, I will never personally disrespect a customer or allow my team to.  Even though I was not a previous hot head with customers who stretched the truth in my early twenties, I have fully evolved in maturity and understanding. 
            Since we speak with most of our customers over the phone, via email, or online chat, we lack that face-to-face interaction.   So our verbal intonation for the phone and word choice for emails has to be professional and understanding.  To be honest, a lot can get lost in translation when you cannot see someone's facial expressions or body language.  We have become an impersonal society, where texting and comments on social media have replaced everyday interactions.  So we have to do everything on our end as a business to make sure that each interaction with our customers is professional and enjoyable. 
            My customer service team members have been yelled at, some even brought to tears, hung up on, and threatened.  We talk about maintaining our composure even in the hardest of situations.  We don't always know what prompts the customers to lash out - for all we know it could have been a breakup, they missed the train, a pipe burst, really anything.  So as long as I know, in the back of my head, the customer is not always right (please know most of the time they are), I feel like I can assist any situations.

Being able to assess your own mistakes and triumphs can only bring you closer to clarity, acceptance, success, and happiness as an entrepreneur.


About the author:
Successful entrepreneur, creative genius, passionate leader.  They may seem like buzzwords, but nonetheless they describe Allison De Meulder.  In 1999 she launched InvitationConsultants.com, one of the first online retailers of personalized invitations and announcements.  In 1999, she was a true pioneer.  In 2015, she remains at the helm of one of the biggest online invitation companies that has survived the dot come bust and the wave of consolidation in the industry.  The company is still privately owned and never accepted any capital or debt.  Their products have been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, Women's Day and numerous other publications.
            In December of 2013, she successfully launched the wholesale line Matrick & Eve, a strong brand of paper and gifts sold in brick and mortar stores.  She saw an opportunity in the market for creative, fun and unique products.  The line features greeting cards, coasters, notepads, stationary, and more.  All of the products are designed, printed and packaged in-house at the Matrick & Eve studio, proudly made in the USA.  In one year, the line went from zero to over three hundred stores, including museums, boutiques, home decor shops, bookstores, and stationary and gift stores, and is still growing strong.  This spring Matrick & Eve can be found in such stores around the country as Sur La Table, Francesca's and Paper Source.
            Allison's main focus is to maintain a company culture steeped in creativity, teamwork, service and out-of-the-box thinking.  Fun is always present at the office and can be seen at their craft days, sketching afternoons and monthly luncheons which usually involve movie trivia.  Allison has grown her company to be a unique place of opportunity for designers as well as those creative minded individuals who want to be in an innovative and challenging environment where things are always changing and growth is not a noun but a state of mind.
            Born in New York City and raised in Miami Beach, Allison dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur lawyer.  She majored in business because she thought it would be a good foundation for law.  She studied at Boston University's School of Management before finishing her degree at the University of Tampa.  To her surprise she fell in love with everything business and took a different path.  She then earned her MBA.  Allison's work experience includes marketing communications and public relations.  She considers her areas of expertise to be: organizational management, product development, creative direction and change management.
            Allison enjoys sharing her passion for business and creativity through public speaking and writing.  
            She enjoys spending her free time traveling with her family, watching chick flicks, listening to '80s music, collecting interior design books, walking, writing, reading, dreaming of new products, touring universities and working on interior design projects that focus on rustic chic and modern vintage decor.  She and her husband have three children and four chickens.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT + EXCERPT: Mirror Image


Mirror Image
By: Michele Pariza Wacek

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Love-Based Publishing
Publication date: May 27, 2016
Pages: 274

Which would be worse, knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer or that someone else is the killer... and that person is you?
            Six months after Linda's sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy.  Until a killer appears who is stalking men... a killer who resembles Elizabeth... a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.
            And, to make matters worse, Steve, her old high school crush and now a detective, is assigned to this case.  He's asking Linda all sorts of questions, questions Linda couldn't possibly have an answer to.
            There's no reason for him to be investigating Linda.  She couldn't possibly have anything to do with this.
            Could she?


Silver eyes, sharp as blades, tearing through him, leaving his body shredded and bloody.
            He blinked.  Where the hell did that come from?
            Joe took another look at the girl who accompanied him to his apartment.  The harsh lights of the hallway made her look more pale and tired than she had appeared in the bar, but she smiled at him nonetheless, and he felt reassured.  He grinned back, realizing it likely looked more like a lopsided, drunken leer than a smile.  He lightly pressed his hand on her back, bumping into her slightly, alcohol blurring his brain.
            "Your eyes are gray," he said, his voice slurred.
            The girl looked at him, surprised.  "What color should they be?"
            Joe laughed, thick and hoarse.  "Silver.  I thought they were silver."
            "Oh," the girl smiled at him.  "That happens a lot.  Reflections."
            Yeah, reflections, that was it.  Her eyes were such a pure gray - no hint of green, brown or blue.  The color seemed to reflect more light than other gray combinations, making them appear silver.
            Joe stumbled, banging his knee into the wall.  He felt nothing, his legs heavy and numb.  She laughed slightly, putting an arm around his waist to help him walk, her purse bouncing off his leg.
            He nuzzled her hair, her neck.  She smelled of sweat, beer, cigarettes and perfume - very strongly of perfume.  In fact, he realized her perfume all but obliterated those other scents.  He usually didn't like it when women used so much, but at this point it made no difference.
            "Why won't you tell me your name?" he asked again.
            For an answer, she turned her face toward him and gently bit his lip.  He felt a sting and tasted blood, which excited him even more.  Rough.  He'd never had it that way before.  He could feel himself getting hard.
            Everything about the woman was different.  First off, he hadn't had to convince her, cajole her, like all the other women.  "Of course, I really like you.  Of course, this is special to me.  I've never met a woman like you before.  I don't normally do this either."  The gray-eyed woman seemed to want it as much as he did, and she needed no promises or lines.  They both knew exactly what tonight represented - a good fuck and nothing more.  When he picked her up in the bar, she seemed a dream come true.
            They reached his door.  He fell heavily against the frame while fishing for his keys.  She tightened her grip, steadying and surprising him.  When he had first looked at her, under the lights in that little white dress, he had thought her delicate.  Insubstantial.  But now, he know he had been incorrect.  There was clearly more to her than he originally thought.
            Joe struggled briefly with the key.  The keyhole kept eluding his drunken, trembling hands, but he was finally able to slide the key in.  He unlocked the door with a click.
            "Gee," she said.  "I hope you don't have that much trouble tonight."
            Moving toward her, he answered by kissing her on the mouth.  She tasted sour - of beer and something else, something he couldn't identify.  As her tongue slid into his mouth, he quit trying to figure it out.
            The door creaked open when they leaned against it, and they quite literally fell into his apartment.
            She got to her feet first, pushing his clumsy hands from her body.  "Where's the bathroom?" she asked.
            "Down the hall - first door to your left," he said, fighting to get up.  The room whirled and dipped beneath him.  Alcohol churned unpleasantly in his stomach.  He couldn't be sick.  Not now.  Slowly he hoisted himself to his feet, hanging on to the doorpost, blinking his eyes to focus.
            "I guess I'm drunker than I thought," he said out loud, pulling the door shut and locking it.  Then he remembered the joint he had smoked before hitting the bars, and figured that probably had something to do with it, too.  He didn't usually smoke pot, but tonight he had allowed his roommate to talk him into it.
            Joe took a couple of deep breaths, still hanging onto the door.  The room settled, ceasing to spin.  He let go of the door, stumbling across the living room and into the hallway.
            He saw his bedroom door open, the light on.  She was sitting on the bed, her coat off.  "I hope you don't mind," she said.  "I decided to make myself at home."
            Joe shook his head, shed his coat and crossed the room to sit on the bed next to her.  The little white dress clung to her large breasts.  He leaned over to kiss her, his hand creeping onto her lap.  She let him, but barely responded.  He stopped and looked at her.  "What's wrong?"
            Her eyes were that weird color again.  Silver.  He couldn't keep her face in focus.  Her features kept blurring, melting together into one undistinguishable mess.  Had he totally misread her after all?


About the author:
When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.
            As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life.  She becomes a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional material for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (in fact, she published her first novel, a psychological thriller/suspense/mystery called "The Stolen Twin" and her second novel "Mirror Image" was released today) plus, she is also the author of the "Love-Based Copy books, which are part of the "Love-Based Business" series and cover both business and personal development.
            She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.

Website ** Blog ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Goodreads ** Amazon ** Instagram

AMONG THE STACKS: Kristin Dearborn


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Kristin.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristin Dearborn:
Where to begin?  You all know I'm a writer (if I wasn't, I wouldn't be here pushing my new novella, Woman in White).  In addition to reading and horror, I'm hugely into motorcycles, rock climbing, travel, and outdoorsy Vermonty stuff.  I have a BA in creative writing from the University of Miami (where Stephen King was my graduation speaker!!!), and my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction is from the amazing Seton Hill University.  By day I work for an emergency efficiency non-profit and am actively involved in saving the world.  My dog, Tali, is a 60lb cat in a Labrador body.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Kristin Dearborn:
I ghostwrite erotic romance to make extra cash.

My car has a turbocharger and upgraded exhaust and is really fast and I love it with all my heart.  It's a Ford Fiesta ST, 6 speed manual. *blows a kiss to car parked outside*

Every night before bed, I write down three things I'm thankful for that happened in my day.

I used to be a carnie.  (No, seriously.)

I strongly dislike Charlie Dickens' writing style.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Kristin Dearborn:
I have a clear memory of my dad reading to me from The Last of the Mohicans and a clear memory of my Aunt Jean reading Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold Bug to me.  Reading myself?  Bunnica was certainly an early one.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Kristin Dearborn:
Right now I'm aaaaalllmost done with the second book in Linda Nagata's Red trilogy, The Trials.  Military sci-fi, good stuff.  I'm also reading Rio Yours's novella Old Man Scratch.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Kristin Dearborn:
I've loved writing for forever.  I can remember dictating stories to my mom back before I could write.  Most of these involved flying, talking dogs.  In college, I got my BA in English, but it didn't occur to me that I could actually be a writer and publish books.  After I graduated, a friend told me her favorite author, Maria V. Snyder, got an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and it was a huge aha moment for me, that sometimes writers get paid to write, and maybe this could be more than a hobby.  I sought out the program, offered by Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, applied, and got in.  The program gave me the tools and confidence to start selling my work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Kristin Dearborn:
Not really, honestly.  I can write in a coffee shop, laundromat, my couch, my bed, my desk.  I have a favorite keyboard I really like to use.  I'm typing on it right now.  I prefer to write in the mornings, but that doesn't always work out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Kristin Dearborn:
My writing is extremely efficient - I start with an image or a character in my head, one little kernel.  I roll my sleeves up and wade in, no idea where I'm going.  After I vomit out something that resembles a draft, I go back, make an outline from it, and start actually writing the book.  I really enjoy quantifying things, so word counts really motivate me.  I like to bust out at least 1000 words per day.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Kristin Dearborn:
Butt in chair is the hardest thing.  Between day job, being a single dog parent, and having a social life, it's hard to budget the time it takes to be successful at writing.  I look at writing as a job these days, not a hobby, and reframing that mindset has helped.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Kristin Dearborn:
I credit three authors for shaping me as an author.  When I was in elementary and middle school, I read everything I could get my hands on written by Dean Koontz.  I loved his stories and his monsters... then sometime in middle school I realized he was telling and re-telling the same story.  I got tired of his work, but loved him so much for so long.  I still think Watchers is one of the finest books ever written.
            The second author is Michael Crichton.  His early horror/sci fi stuff rocked my world: SphereThe Terminal ManThe Andromeda Strain.  It was Jurassic Park that introduced me to him.  I though that book was amazing.  I have a velociraptor tattooed on my ankle, I love it so much!
            The third author, and the love of my literary life, is one from my home state, the immortal Stephen King.  He writes about the real Maine, one I lived in for twenty five years.  His characters leap off the page to me, real human beings.  The BodyThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Christine are probably my favorites.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Kristin Dearborn:
The characters.  You can have a compelling story of interesting characters doing nothing (Seinfeld, anyone?) or a boring story of uninteresting characters doing what should be awesome stuff (anything Michael Bay has ever done, except The Rock, that was cool).  We need to care about the people we're reading about in order to have a meaningful connection with the work.  Which segues perfectly to our next question...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Kristin Dearborn:
I need a character to have dimensions.  It can't feel like they only exist in the scope of the piece, they have to feel like they have their own lives.  This is what I think Stephen King does so well.  I'll never forget the mailman in his novel Cujo.  Basically the guy is cannon fodder, and in a lesser writer's hand he would have been completely forgettable.  35 year old spoilers: he wanders in to deliver the mail, and the dog kills him.  But King paints a picture of a man with stomach problems.  As he's delivering the mail, he's thinking about how he needs to see a doctor, but is scared of what the doctor will find.  And he's farting a whole lot.  When creating my own characters, I try to remember that each of them is a person, in their own mind, each of them is the star of their own novel.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Kristin Dearborn:
Huh.  Interesting question.  I think I would say Lee from Woman in White... she's driven, she's tough, but she makes bad choices and beats herself up over them.  Then again, that might be because I've been working on final edits of that one this week.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Kristin Dearborn:
I think we all judge books by their covers to some extent.  A bad cover will absolutely turn me off.  If I hear really really great things about the book, I can forgive it, but I won't pick it up on my own.  I've had the pleasure of working with two artists - Daniele Serra (Trinity, the upcoming Raw Dog Screaming Press cover of Stolen Away, which I've seen and you haven't) and Zach McCain (Sacrifice IslandWoman in White, and the Thunderstorm Books cover of Stolen Away).  They are both fantastic artists , and their work blows me away every time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Kristin Dearborn:
Where to begin on this one... I feel like I learn something new with every book I start, and learn a whole lot more with every book I finish.  Working with editors is always an eye opening process, and they each look for something different in the work, which I can learn and carry forward to the next process.  I've learned about my own process, and am starting to get an idea about when I should - and shouldn't - push myself creatively.  I feel like I do much better these days determining which part of writing to stress out about.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Kristin Dearborn:
I'm really conflicted on scenes of violence towards animals.  On the one hand, it's super overdone and when you see a dog in a horror movie/book, you pretty much know that thing is going to wind up disemboweled.  On the other hand, it's a pretty useful way to convey shit's getting real, and to raise the stakes.  The scene in Carpenter's The Thing with the huskies in a fantastic, tense, terrifying bit of cinema.  There's a dog in Stolen Away, and because she is a dog in a horror book, well, you can figure out that things don't go so well for her.  That scene was a big bummer to write, because I love dogs very much.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Kristin Dearborn:
I hope my characters are vivid enough to escalate my work, and make it stand out against the average book.  There's more leeway, in my opinion, with a weaver plot, if the characters are powerful enough.  I don't feel like I plot particularly well, and I feel like all of the ideas have been done multiple times.  The people populating stories are the places where they can stand out, and I'd like to think I accomplish this.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Kristin Dearborn:
I hate book titles.  I'm so bad at them.  Usually my files are noun exclamation point!  Trinity was Alien!  Woman in White's file name has a spoiler in it so I can't tell you about it, but there was an exclamation point.  Stolen Away's filename also had a spoiler...
            I usually leave the titles to other people.  My editor at DarkFuse titled Woman in White and Sacrifice Island for me, and my friend Ron titled Stolen Away.  I don't like naming books or stories or things.  After two years I'm still not convinced my dog Tali is really a Tali.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Kristin Dearborn:
I vastly prefer reading and writing novels.  I like to dig in for the long haul, getting comfortable (or uncomfortable, as the case may be) in the world and its inhabitants.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Kristin Dearborn:
The more I write, the more I tend to lean towards themes of violence towards women.  Domestic violence is such a prevalent issue in our society, I want to shite a light on it through the lens of horror.  I think monsters are fantastic, but I think they provide a brilliant foil for the human monsters who walk among us.  The statistics on domestic abuse - perpetrated towards both men and women - are staggering, and sadly, whether we realize it or not, we all know someone who's been a victim.  The more we talk about the problem and get it out into the open, the more we can help voices be heard.  I'd like readers to come away from my books thinking about these issues, and how they can better be listeners and advocates.
            Also?  I want people to think I write a kick ass monster story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Kristin Dearborn:
Because I am a "pantser" and not a "plotter" a lot of my first draft is character development.  In a piece I'm working on now, I recently removed an entire character from the manuscript, as it turned out he didn't really serve the plot as much as I thought he did.  It was a bummer, because he was fun to write, but the book is better off without him.  I use the early drafts to suss out character development, have interactions between characters which help me figure out who they are, but don't move the plot forward.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Kristin Dearborn:
In my trunk is a pair of urban fantasy werewolf novels.  The heroine is a 1900s socialite whose world is shattered when she's changed into a werewolf.  In the first book, my heroine has to stop the man who hanger her from marrying (and changing) her best friend set in the backdrop of the summer season in Newport, RI.  In the second, she goes to San Francisco to start over and winds up associating with a werewolf brothel.  I've tried shopping the first one around a bunch, but haven't had any takers.  Will it ever see the light of day?  Only time will tell.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Kristin Dearborn:
More books!  I definitely don't have any plans to stop soon, and 2016 is going to be a big year for me in terms of releases.  Who knows what 2017 has in store for me and my words!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Kristin Dearborn:
My website, my Facebook, and occasionally I appear on Twitter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Kristin Dearborn:
Goodness!  After 24 comprehensive questions, I don't think there's too much else to say.  Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Gal in the Blue Mask!


About the author:
If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it.  She revels in comments like "But you look so normal... how do you come up with that stuff?"  A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft.  When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs, zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe.  Kristin is the author of two novels, Trinity and Stolen Away, two novellas, Sacrifice Island and Woman in White, and many short stories.  For a full list of publications and where to find them, visit her website

About the book:
Rocky Rhodes, Maine.

As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again.  When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.
            While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male.  Now it's up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.
            Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.